Today's Lectionary Text
Jeremiah 29:11-14For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
I am going to ask you two questions as you read this devotion, I want you to think about these two questions as I share my personal story. What is the hardest situation that you had to overcome throughout your life? How did you overcome it?
Ukraine: Nov. 3, 1999, that is the year that I was born. My parents abandoned me when I was 2 years old. I grew up in an orphanage for 13 years and for all those years of being alone with other kids wasn’t the best experiences in my life. I can remember times when I just wanted to be like the other kids that had family. But unfortunately, it was just wishful thinking. Living life as an orphan was one of the struggles that I had to overcome in my life, but being an orphan wasn’t the hardest struggle. The hardest struggle was that I had overcome the thoughts and accept the reality that I was abandoned by my parents whom I really needed as a child. I wish I had those pictures and memories of my first steps, my first words, my first day of school, and the memories that normal kids would have and remember. There were days where I thought that I was a mistake. There were days that I wish that I wasn’t even alive. I just wished I had someone that would lift me up and tell me everything is OK.
The older I got I turned to God and asked him questions on why was I abandoned by my family? Was I a mistake to God? Why me? I struggled and wrestled with God -- what did God want from me? I begged God to give me a sign that he is listening to my cries at night. Eventually God gave me a friend who was from a local church in Ukraine. Her name was Natella. She helped me get back on my feet and guided me into the direction that God had planned for me. I started to join a local church every Sunday and listen to God’s word.
When I read Jeremiah 29:11-14, it made everything in my life make sense. Everything I went through in life, I knew that God plans was not to harm me but to prosper me, to give me hope and future. The time I started to put my energy and time into God and live out my purpose in life, my life shifted in a totally different direction. I started to see the world much bigger than I ever saw it. I began to see that there were people that were just like me, and I tried to use my life experience to help them to live out their purpose. I wish I could tell you that after being more focused on God and living out my purpose that the rest of my childhood was easy, unfortunately it wasn’t. There was plenty of times when I wanted to throw in the white towel on the ground and say I give up, but I knew if I threw that towel on the ground, I would be doing what Satan wanted and not what God had planned for me. I continued battling and living out my purpose. In those moments when I wanted to give up and throw the white towel on the ground, I would tell myself that “if you do what is easy your life will be hard, but if you do what is hard your life will be easy”. This thought saved me so many times from taking the easy path instead of the rocky path.
As we end this devotional time, I know that many of us have been in the situations throughout their lives when we couldn’t understand why we were going through the struggles. Many of us wanted to give up and throw in the towel, but I am living proof that God has placed the circumstances in your life to allow you to be the hands and feet of Christ to those all around us. The very experiences that you had (the good and the not so good) that can allow you to be the voice of hope for one of God’s beloved creation. Namely, your very experiences can be an entry point into someone else’s life for God to step into their lives and do exceedingly, abundantly, more than we can ever think or imagine. Take some time to look at your life’s experiences and see how God was and is using you for God’s good in the world. Allow yourself time to see God’s plan is not to harm you, but to prosper you for the purpose of your life. And remember that God is with you every step of the journey of your life.
Hiawatha First UMC, Kansas
Prayer for Reflection
Thank You, Lord, that You are my refuge and my strength in hard times and an ever-present helper in times of trouble. Help me to cling to You and this truth from the Bible that You keep bringing to my mind.
I know that You are the only all-powerful God, and that there is nothing that is too difficult in my life for You to deal with, nor is there any obstacle in my path that is so insurmountable that I cannot cross, knowing that You are by my side.
Please give me Your strength to face today’s hard and troubled times, with the confidence of knowing that Your strength is made perfect in my weakness. Thank You that my strength comes from You, and that Your grace is sufficient for all the tasks and duties that will cross my daily path, not only for today but for the rest of my journey through life.
Thank You, Father, that Your grace is sufficient. Help me to meditate on this truth every day,
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